Trading Post Update

I’ve been pretty quiet on this blog. In fact, it’s been two months since I posted something. I drastically underestimated how busy life gets with three kids. But I recently started actively designing again.

Back in March and April I collated all my designs and realized that I have 14 designs somewhere along the progress train. That was a little shocking. I then decided to focus on two designs and pursue them with great vigor rather than chipping away one small piece at a time.

Those two designs that I am focusing on are Trading Post and Ziggurat. Today I will discuss some of the concept of Trading Post.

Trading Post Status

Do I finally have a fun game here?

Do I finally have a fun game here?

Trading Post was my second ever design concept. I began working on it when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing regarding design games. (Some might still think that’s the case). But now I’ve redesigned it from scratch and I like where it is headed.

The theme of the game revolves around the Fort Union Trading Post. You can learn more about it on the National Park Service site here. The trading post at Fort Union was requested by the Assiniboine Indian tribe. All the local tribes and the inhabitants of the fort were friendly with one another, so the game includes no conflicts with the tribes. This is thematic and accurate.

The current status of the game is that I have solo tested it once. Here is a spoiler image of the prototype:

This image is purposefully not very revealing.

This image is purposefully not very revealing.

The game utilizes a rondel for action selection. It is a resource collection and management game. Players earn the most points by getting higher level resources via trades and then trading those higher level resources with Indian tribes.

The focus of the game is completing trades. I suppose you could put them in the same boat as the recipes in the Chili Cook Off in Scoville. They fit that mold. But in Trading Post you have to do a bunch of legwork to get the resources that are needed for those high level trades. And to get those resources you will have to manage your actions in the most optimal way.

There are eight action locations on the rondel. Four of them offer resources or trading abilities. The other four offer “experiences.” The experiences include hunting, encountering Indians, and building the fort. To hunt you will need guns. Encountering Indians is one of the higher level trading options. And building the fort will reward the player with the greatest number of points as it also determines when the game ends.

The whole premise is to contribute to the building of the fort. The best way to contribute is by completing trades that give you the resources with which you can build.

Next Step

Why is it that the “In My Head” concept step always seems so perfect until I actually get the game to the table? Honestly the best step any game designer can take in figuring out their game is to make the prototype and play it. I liken that step to completing the border of a puzzle. Once you have the border completed then you have a better idea of what you are actually working on.

So I solo tested Trading Post the other night. I now have my border in place. After solo testing I realized that I needed tiers to the resources. This is similar to the idea of clay and brick in many Uwe Rosenberg games. The clay is a standard resource and the bricks are advanced resources. So I am going to implement a tiered system in Trading Post.

I also learned that the Indian Encounter trading objectives are too focused. Rather then requiring absolutely specific things, like two knives, they will require a more simple objective, like a pair of cards. This should help players complete those objectives, provide rewarding moments in the game, and allow the game to move more quickly.

The other thing I want to really emphasize in the game is player interaction via player to player trading. Right now I have a simple mechanic like the trading in Catan but I want to step it up just a bit. I’m still working on this and I’m hoping it falls into place when I have a few more pieces of the puzzle together.

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So that’s the latest from me. I’ll post a similar article about Ziggurat probably next week. My goal for both games is to have them past the solo-testing phase so that I can bring them to Gen Con and get feedback from awesome people like you. Thanks for reading.

Game Design Starter Kit

My Game Creation Process

Move beyond the Concept phase!

One of the barriers to game design is a lack of components. If you had blank cards sitting around, you would be more likely to start designing a card game. If you had some dice, you might design a dice game. The point is that if you had game design components available to you, then you are much more likely to move your game designs from the Concept phase to the Prototype/Playtesting phase.

Today I am listing some of the items that I find most useful in putting together a prototype. The hope is that you can find what you need to move your game design along.

Getting to the playtesting phase is often the biggest hurdle, but it’s the critical step in determining if your game design has any potential.

Before I get to my recommendations, which are brief, I want to remind you of the series I wrote about sourcing game design components. These articles are much more thorough:

So check those out and then come back here for the basics to get you from the concept phase to the playtesting phase of your game designs.

Here is my checklist of excellent items to have in case you are ready to move from concept to prototype. To make it easier for you I have provided two lists, one for Amazon, and one for EAI Education (my preferred source). This way you can choose one and buy everything you need from one place.

Amazon:

EAI Education:

With cards, dice, meeples, and cubes you are basically ready to roll out your game design prototype. Of course there are other things that you may want, but as for a Game Design Starter Kit I recommend these four items very highly! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Monday Brews – 3-30-15

Welcome back to Boards and Barley. It’s been 20 days since I last posted anything. Why? Because board gaming stuff is a hobby and not a job (Though if that changed it would be pretty sweet). I love blogging about board game stuff, but when things get really busy this hobby falls to the back seat before anything else. Never-the-less, I’m going to adjust my schedule so that I can continue blogging and sharing tips about homebrewing and designing board games.

One of the first things I want to do is to renovate (i.e., create) a Game Design Page that compiles all of my articles about the game design process. I’ve posted stuff about game design from concept to publication and I think having all that in one place would be really useful.

I also want to start a regular Tuesday article about beer that focuses on a Beer of the Week. I like to try as many new beers as I can and I’d like to share my thoughts about the beer and its style with you.

Another thing that I’ve missed doing are the “Design Me” game design exercises. These are relatively easy to post so I think I’ll try to get back into those. Plus, they are very beneficial for game designers as they help flex your game design muscle.

But today is Monday so let’s check out the Boards & Barley I’ve been enjoying!

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The Barley

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT:
NEW! Ale Asylum HuMMMane India Brown Ale

I bought a six pack of this brew at my FLBS (Favorite local beer store) because they were giving away samples and because the proceeds would go to support the local Honor Flight. For those not aware of the Honor Flight program, it is a program that takes war veterans to Washington DC to visit their respective war memorials. Then there are usually nice crowds to welcome the war heroes back home when their airplane lands. With a father who was in the military and with a brother who has served tours of duty in places I would never want to go I am very happy to support the military whenever possible, and the honor flights are a great way to do so.

New Beer Count for 2015: 22

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The Boards

My sister beat me and become the Harbour Master!

My sister beat me and become the Harbour Master!

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT:
NEW! Harbour

There is a lot of game in this little box. In Harbour players try to manage their resources, ship goods, and buy buildings. There are a lot of interesting decisions to be made while hoping your opponents don’t modify the market and sweep the rug out from under your feet. I’m glad I backed this Tasty Minstrel Games project on Kickstarter.

  • Scoville
  • NEW! Fidelitas I thought this game was pretty clever. I played a 2 player game and I enjoyed it. Playing it a second time will be even better know that I have a better idea of how the game is played and what combos exist.
  • Crokinole
  • Concordia (Half of a game)
  • Dungeon Roll
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Ziggurat Playtest

New Board Game Count for 2015: 15

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So those are the Boards & Barley that I’ve been enjoying. What have you been enjoying?

A Guide for Beer Glasses

My friend Jeremy recently bought me a beer glass on a recent trip. It’s not just any beer glass. It’s different than any other beer glass I’ve seen.

What makes it different is the curvature of the glass. The sides are slightly curved like an Irish Imperial Pint glass. But also the bottom has a nice rounded feature that makes this glass have a very nice feel in your hand.

I have a collection of about 30 pint glasses. I typically prefer the Shaker pint glass style with the straight walled sides. But I like to make exceptions for glasses when they’re awesome. This beer glass from Odell Brewing is awesome.

So today I wanted to write about different beer glass styles including what beer styles go in them. But as I was doing research I found a really nice infographic from a company that sells a hangover product (Revivol). And then I found a second one (from Central Restaurant Products) with a little more info and less graphics. I like them both. So instead of me typing a bunch of stuff, here are two pretty sweet infographics:

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Monday Brews – 3-9-15

It’s gonna be 48 degrees here in Wisconsin today so that’s pretty awesome. Also awesome is that the college basketball tournament is approaching. I love the tournament because the kids playing college basketball put so much heart into it compared to professional sports where it’s more about money. But this website isn’t for writing about sportsball.

So let’s see what Boards & Barley I’ve enjoyed over the last week:

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT:
NEW! Snake River Vienna Lager

My friend Jeremy brought these back from a recent trip out west and graciously shared them with us. It was a very enjoyable beer and was characteristic of Vienna Lagers. I’d love to visit the brewery someday. By the looks of their website they’ve got a great brewpub.

New Beer Count for 2015: 19

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The Boards:

Unfortunately you still can’t turn lead into gold.

BOARDS SPOTLIGHT:
NEW! Alchemists

I had been wanting to play this game by Czech Games Edition for a while and was able to get it to the table at Board Game Night. Alchemists is like Clue except instead of having to figure out three things you need to figure out 8. And instead of having turns where you roll a 1 and move one space through the mansion you can do great stuff every turn. And instead of having the game end by someone making a lucky guess you play 6 rounds.

Alchemists was a ton of fun. The gameplay is great. The theme works really well. The deduction is intense. I lost badly but I seriously enjoyed the game. The only downsides for me were that there’s a pretty steep learning curve. The first play took us three hours. That included the time it took to teach, though. The bottom line was that I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I can’t wait to play Alchemists again.

  • NEW! Robinson Crusoe – We got beat so badly that I’ll have to play again just so I can feature it as the BOARDS SPOTLIGHT without feeling like we played so poorly.
  • Roll for the Galaxy

New Board Game Count for 2015: 14

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Designer’s Corner:

Ziggurat is coming along nicely. I have been working on it feverishly so that I can have it ready for Protospiel-Milwaukee in April.

The problem that was mentioned about the game in it’s previous form was that if you weren’t building you were falling behind. And the first to build got the better bonuses so they could build better and faster and become a runaway leader. That was a bummer.

So I’ve come up with a new, more “Euro” system of playing this game. It will turn the game into more of a point-salad, “Feldian” type game, but those are the types of games I enjoy.

The solution I came up with changes the game slightly in that it is mildly less accessible since the learning curve is steeper. However, the game play should be much improved as there are more things to consider on each and every turn. The scoring conditions are also improved. In the previous version the win would all but be known when the game ended. I prefer that players not know who is going to win before the end of the game. This gives all players hope that they might somehow sneak out a victory. So I’ve changed it so that there are a lot more points counted at the end rather than during the game.

Overall I’m really excited about where this is going. I think there’s a lot of potential here. But ultimately, this game is a lot of fun to design.

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So that’s what I’ve been up to. What Boards & Barley have you been enjoying?

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